Legendary Pictures' Pokemon movie Detective Pikachu will no longer be distributed by Universal, but instead has been shifted over to Warner Bros. in a possible preview of a new overall deal between Legendary and Warners. The live action film about a crime-solving Pikachu started shooting in January, and set images surfaced shortly thereafter. Ryan Reynolds will lend his voice to the CGI Detective Pikachu, marking a major change-up from his most famous role as the eternally potty-mouthed Deadpool.
Released in 2016, the Detective Pikachu game was a spinoff of the popular Pokemon series, featuring a rare talking Pikachu who goes around solving mysteries with the help of a human boy named Tim Goodman. Development on the Detective Pikachu movie began in 2016 after several studios bid for live-action Pokemon film rights amid the Pokeman Go! craze. Ultimately, Legendary won the bidding war and went forward with Detective Pikachu, with their usual distribution partner Universal on-board.
But now plans have changed for Detective Pikachu, as THR reports that Universal is out as distributor and Warner Bros. is in. Sources told THR that the move is a prelude to Legendary cutting ties with Universal and moving their distribution deal to Warners. Legendary and Warners were partners from 2005 to 2014, during which time Legendary had a stake in many major WB films, including Christopher Nolan's Batman movies as well as Godzilla and the first Pacific Rim.
A move back from Universal to Warner Bros. would mean a change in distributor for several upcoming Legendary titles, most notably Godzilla: King of the Monsters and its planned MonsterVerse follow-up Godzilla vs. Kong. The move could potentially mean good things for a possible third Pacific Rim after this year's Universal-distributed Pacific Rim Uprising failed to impress at the box office (Warners distributed the first Pacific Rim to strong box office returns back in 2013 and could presumably seek to resurrect the series).
Legendary and Universal also teamed up for this summer's Dwayne Johnson vehicle Skyscraper, whose box office under-performance was likely the last nail in the coffin for the shaky Universal-Legendary partnership. Legendary has announced another upcoming Johnson project, the action-thriller Red Notice which is set to co-star Gal Gadot. As of now, the Warners-distributed Detective Pikachu will reportedly retain its originally announced release date. The movie co-stars Justice Smith as Detective Pikachu's human partner Tim Goodman, together with Kathryn Newton, Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy, Suki Waterhouse and Rita Ora.
- Detective Pikachu (2019) release date: May 10, 2019